U.S. Federal District Judge Sam Sparks has issued a ruling declaring Scott Panetti competent to be executed. AFP reports, "Schizophrenic death row man in Texas on path to execution."
It's important to note that Judge Sparks' ruling does not establish an execution date; that will be set be the state district court with authority over the case. Also, there are currently no execution dates set in Texas due to the moratorium on lethal injection executions pending a ruling in Baze v. Rees, the Kentucky lethal injection case being considered by the Supreme Court.
A schizophrenic inmate in Texas is again on the path to execution after a federal judge pronounced him sufficiently rational to understand why he has been sentenced to death.
In 1986 the US Supreme Court ruled that a convict could be executed only if that person realized that he or she was going to die, and understood why.
Scott Panetti, 50, was sentenced to die for a double homicide he acknowledged having committed.
But the Supreme Court in June blocked his execution and ordered judges in Austin, Texas to determine if Panetti realized that he was to be executed as punishment for the murder of his in-laws.
Federal Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas gathered evidence from experts, prison cell mates, prison guards, and friends and relatives of Panetti to better understand the convict's mental state.
"Panetti was mentally ill when he committed his crime and continues to be mentally ill today," read Sparks' opinion, issued Wednesday.
"However, he has both a factual and rational understanding of his crime, his impending death, and the causal retributive connection between the two.
"Therefore, if any mentally ill person is competent to be executed for his crimes, this record establishes it is Scott Panetti," Sparks wrote.
Earlier coverage is here.